I can’t remember exactly when I first fell in-love with Marco Van Basten but I know I really loved him without even watching him play.
His pictures in the newspapers were of an impressive, handsome young man and his movement, in the few clips that were shown on television, was mesmerizing.
Live games were out of the question back then because there was only one television station and it was always busy with boring stuff like the news, but in the few clips of him I did see, he was different from all the players I’ve ever seen before.
And according to the reports I read about him he scored almost in every game he played in (Which is not far from the truth – he scored 218 goals in 280 games).
Diego Maradona was awesome, explosive and loved by everyone. I acknowledged it, but it always seemed to me that Van Basten has class that no one else possessed.
On the first day my family got cables, there was a friendly game between Marseille and AC Milan and a few friends of mine came over to see Van Basten.
Throughout the game he was powerful and elegant as I imagined him to be. He did not disappoint me at all. I remember thinking he seemed like a different specie compared to the small and somewhat scattered Jean-Pierre Papin of Marseille.
Unfortunately, the game that produced the most vivid Van Basten memory for me was the Euro 1992 semi-final - in which his penalty was saved by the mighty Peter Schmeichel in the shoot-out.
Van Basten did not play a lot since that semi-final and the games he did play were not shown on TV.
However, Van Basten is the first way-point in my football love map. Because of him I started obsessing about AC Milan, Dutch Football and later on, because of Dennis Bergkamp, about Arsenal. Above all, I’m pretty sure that because of him football for me should always be about the mixture of class, elegance, speed and power – a rare mixture that very few players today posses.
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